No official safe limits on airborne silica dust

No official safe limits on airborne silica dust by Kate Prengaman, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, July 23, 2012, Winona Daily News
Sand grains are harmless — think sand on a beach — but silica dust particles created by frac sand processing are basically tiny glass shards. Exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease. There are federal limits on acceptable silica exposure in the workplace, and some workers use respirators. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported 75 deaths in Wisconsin from silicosis between 1996 and 2005, mainly among manufacturing and mining workers. … Some mines and processing plants also monitor the air outside their facilities, but according to Hillary Carpen-ter, a toxicologist with the Minnesota Department of Health, no research-supported safe level of silica exposure in ambient air has been developed. At a June public meeting in Winona, he said that so far there has not been enough concern about environmental silica exposure to warrant a study. … In January, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources decided that no additional regulations are needed.

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